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Kanishka Nilaweera

Research Officer

Research Interests

My research aims to identify nutrients and their bioactive components that reduce weight gain, so that these can be commercialised as Functional Food ingredients to tackle the obesity problem. The work involves animal feeding trials and related molecular biology work. Utilising this approach, we have shown that intake of dairy whey proteins affect the expression of nutrient transporters in the intestine and alter the composition of the gut microbiota important for energy harvest from the ingested food. This appears to underlie how whey proteins affect weight gain.


1998-2002: Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Aberdeen, UK.
1993-1998: BSc Upper Second Class (Division 1) Honours in Genetics, University of Aberdeen, UK.

  1. Nilaweera KN*, Cabrera-Rubio R, Speakman JR, O' Connor PM, McAuliffe A, Guinane CM, Lawton E, Crispie F, Aguilera M, Stanley M, Boscaini S, Joyce S, Melgar S, Cryan JF, Cotter PD. Whey protein-effects on energy balance link the intestinal mechanisms of energy absorption with adiposity and hypothalamic neuropeptide gene expression. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Mar 21:[Epub ahead of print]
  2. McManus BL, Korpela R, O’Connor P, Schellekens H, Cryan JF, Cotter PD, Nilaweera KN*. Compared to casein, bovine lactoferrin reduces plasma leptin and corticosterone and affects hypothalamic gene expression without altering weight gain or fat mass in high fat diet fed C57/BL6J mice. Nutrition & Metabolism 2015, 12;53.
  3. McManus BL, Korpela R, Speakman JR, Cryan JF, Cotter PD, Nilaweera KN*. Bovine serum albumin as the dominant form of dietary protein reduces subcutaneous fat mass, plasma leptin and plasma corticosterone in high fat-fed C57/BL6J mice. British Journal of Nutrition 2015 August;114 94); 654-662.
  4. McAllan, L, Speakman, J.R., Cryan, J.F. and Nilaweera, KN*. Whey protein isolate decreases murine stomach weight and intestinal length and alters the expression of Wnt signalling associated genes. British Journal of Nutrition 2015, January; 113 (2); 372-379.
  5. Finucane OM, Lyons CL, Murphy AM, Reynolds CM, Klinger R, Healy NP, Cooke A, Coll R, McAllan L, Nilaweera K, O’Reilly M, Tierney AC, Morine MJ, Alcala-Diaz JF, Lopez-Miranda J, O’Connor DP, O’ Neill L, McGillicuddy FC, and Roche HM. Monounsaturated fatty acid enriched high fat-diets impede adipose NLRP3 inflammasome mediated IL-1β secretion and insulin resistance despite obesity. Diabetes 2015, Jun;64(6):2116-28.
  6. McAllan L, Skuse P, Cotter P, O’ Connor P, Cryan JF, Ross RP, Fitzgerald G, Roche HM and Nilaweera KN*. Protein quality and the protein to carbohydrate ratio within a high fat diet influences energy balance and the gut microbiota in C57BL/6J mice. PLoS One,2014 Feb 10;9(2):e88904.
  7. McAllan L, Keane D, Schellekens H, Roche HM, Korpela R, Cryan JF, Nilaweera KN*. Whey protein isolate counteracts the effects of a high-fat diet on energy intake and hypothalamic and adipose tissue expression of energy balance-related genes. British Journal of Nutrition 2013 Dec;110(11):2114-26.